When you’re choosing which cinema to visit, you’re going to want to look at the big picture…

Sure, location and your film choice play a major role when it comes to planning your cinema outing in Dubai. But what about the seats, the snacks – the experience?

Because these days, experience has moved up a few notches from the plain popcorn and sticky floors of your childhood multiplex – we’re talking reclining sofas, cosy blankets and maybe even a cocktail or two.

To ensure you make the right choice, here are our 6 fun and unique cinema experiences in Dubai you have to try …

Cinema Akil

Cinema Akil

Best for: true cinephiles

Cinema Akil is a film-lovers paradise. The intimate 130-seater screening room is the GCC’s first arthouse cinema stuffed with mix-matched couches and vintage posters adorning its walls. Showcasing directors and filmmakers across the decades, every film that is screened here is personally chosen by the cinema’s founder Butheina Kazim for its artistic integrity, often reflecting social issues or addressing topical themes. From fully-fledged film festivals – including the beloved Reel Palestine – to one-off screenings and exclusive events, this is a one-of-a-kind cinema experience in the UAE. They often host events with filmmakers and directors here, and the cinema foyer is a lovely place to pass the time, with a saffron chai or turmeric latte whether you’re planning on watching something or not.

Alserkal Avenue, Al Quoz, daily 11am to 11pm, Dhs56.50 per cinema ticket. Tel: (0)58 909 7798. cinemaakil.com

Theatre at VOX


Best for: movie dining

VOX Cinemas in Mall Of The Emirates is a behemoth multi-screen cinema, which shows all manner of blockbusters from Hollywood to Bollywood. But its most revered cinema is Theatre, which has been given a sleek 2024 upgrade. Pre the movie, head to the lounge and enjoy movie-related digital artwork, and chill with mates over billiards. Inside the cinema, THEATRE features premium seating, reclining heated seats, plush blankets and pillows to keep you nice and cosy. There are wireless chargers, swivel tables and personal lighting, with several seating configurations to choose from – single, double, or group seating of four. The new Theatre menu brings together more variety with everything from dynamite shrimp, mac ‘n’ cheese bites, and vegan tacos to mini hotdogs, nachos and flatbreads. It’s good, fun, tasty food without the pretence. Tickets are Dhs185 for the seat and popcorn, or you can upgrade to the Snack package (an extra Dhs55) to include a popcorn or nachos, a Theatre favourite from the core menu, and a soft drink; the Theatre package (an extra Dhs105), which includes a three-course meal and soft drink; or the Chef’s package (an extra Dhs205), where you’ll get an amuse bouche, chef selection of appetizers, a main course, dessert and a drink.

VOX Cinemas, Mall Of The Emirates, daily various timings. Tel: (600) 599905. uae.voxcinemascom

Roxy Platinum Plus (Boxpark)

Roxy Boxpark

Best for: blockbusters in a vintage setting

With just one screen, Platinum Plus in Boxpark provides a proper boutique experience, with fancy popcorn, cakes and fully-fledged meals available to take in with you. The programme is as eclectic as the interior – new releases are screened all week, with retro films shown intermittently on the big screen. It’s also a romantic spot with handsome burgundy Chesterfield-style leather armchairs and matching footstools. You can opt for just the cinema ticket for Dhs178, or upgrade to include a two-course meal to enhance your viewing experience, for Dhs255.

Roxy Cinemas, Boxpark, daily various timings, from Dhs178. Tel: (800) 7699. theroxycinemas.com 

ScreenX at Reel Cinemas


Best for: total immersion

Previously described as the ‘future of cinema’ by Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 director James Gunn, ScreenX is the next level up from IMAX. Similar to IMAX, films formatted for ScreenX create a 270-degree panoramic experience that enhances the onscreen visuals and the film’s narrative by expanding key selected scenes onto the left and right walls of the auditorium. As a result, additional imagery is projected onto the walls during action sequences, filling the viewer’s peripheral vision and drawing them deeper into the story. Experience it for yourselves at Reel Cinemas in Dubai Mall.

Reel Cinemas, Dubai Mall, Downtown Dubai, daily various timings, from Dhs55 (per cinema ticket). Tel: (800) 382246255. reelcinemas.com

Roxy Xtreme


Best for: big blockbusters

It’s the biggest cinema screen in the Middle East and North Africa, longer than two connected tennis courts, which – alongside a state-of-the-art surround sound system and laser projection, and a whopping 382-premium reclining seats – makes it the ideal place to lose yourself in big blockbuster films. Tickets are Dhs60 for standard viewing, or Dhs92 for premium viewing. Want to go even bigger? Book a director’s box, each a plush suite perched above the auditorium. Ideal for booking with a group of movie-loving mates, director’s boxes come with on-demand waiter service, reclining heated seats with footrests and headrests and wireless phone charging. They’re Dhs189 per person.

Roxy Cinemas, Dubai Hills Mall, daily various timings, from Dhs60 (per cinema ticket). Tel: (800) 7699. theroxycinemas.com

Cinemacity (Fountain Views)

Cinema City

Best for: cocktails

If you fancy a few cocktails with your evening flick, Cinemacity’s Azul Lounge Theatre might be your bag. It screens the same big blockbuster movies as other venues around town, but there’s a licensed bar in the back, serving up craft cocktails from cuba libres made with popcorn and butter-infused rum, to old-fashioned’s with peanut butter-infused bourbon. Tickets are available in both club class and VIP class, and if you opt for the licensed screening, you’ll also get to order alcoholic drinks to your seat via waiter service. Swish. Club class tickets are Dhs75, while you’ll pay Dhs138 for VIP (both licensed options).

Cinemacity Fountain Views, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Blvd, Downtown Dubai, daily various timings, Dhs75 (per cinema ticket). Tel: (0)4 770 0111. cinemacity.ae

Images: Supplied